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Imam Reza A.S. shrine, Mashhad

Imam Reza A.S. shrine

Nickname: Mekka of poor people

map of Iran

Coordinates: 36.16° N 59.38° E


818 AD (Martyrdom Of Imam Reza)



27,478 km²







82/km² (212.4/sq mi)


about 562,000


about 1,686,000


Over 12 million pilgrims and tourists per year

Time zone

IRST (UTC+3:30)

Coordinates: 36°16′″N, 59°38′″E


Mashhad (also spelt Mashhad ar-Reza, Persian: مشهد, literally the place of martyrdom) is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shiah world. It is located 850 kilometers (500 miles) east of Tehran, Iran (Persia), at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province. Its population is 2,387,734 people (2006).

Geography and demographics

Mashhad from space


Mashhad from space, January 2003

The city is located at 36.20º latitude and 59.35º east longitude, in the valley of the Kashaf River near Turkmenistan, between the two mountain ranges of Binalood and Hezar-masjed. The city benefits from the proximity of the mountains, having very cold winters, pleasant springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. It is only 800 miles from Ashgabad, Turkmenistan.

Mashhad has a population of almost 3 million, consisting of people of Iranian descent, among others. There are also over 20 million pilgrims who visit the city every year.

History and notable events

Imam Reza A.S.shrine


Imam Reza A.S.shrine, center of activity in Mashhad.

Molla Heydar mosque


Molla Heydar mosque, a fine example of 19th century local Iranian architecture.

The city was founded around 823 AD, and its name derives from mashhad-e-reza, "place of martyrdom". It is a reference to the death of Imam Reza, the Eighth Imam of Shi'ite Islam, who is believed by members of the Shi'ia sect to have been poisoned there upon orders of Caliph Al Ma'mun. Also there is grave of Harun al-Rashid.Before his death the place was a small village by the name of Sanabad, which was in the country of Tus. Then a shrine was built there to commemorate the Imam, and gradually the town grew around it.

Among the first major buildings was a mausoleum built by Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi. It was not a big city until Mongol raid which result in destroying of most of big cities of the Greater Khorasan but Mashhad wasn't destroyed. During Shahrokh era it becomes of the main cities of Timurid dynasty and his wife, Goharshad, funded the construction of an outstanding mosques beside the shrine. This mosque remains safe until now and its size show that Mashhad has been great and rich city during 15th century.

Shah Ismail I conquered Mashhad after death of Husayn Bayqarah and decline of Timurid dynasty. But Mashhad was captured by Uzbeks during kingdom of Shah Abbas I and after a long and severe struggle, Shah Abbas regained Mashhad, and defeated the Uzbeks in a great battle near Herat in 1597, driving them beyond the Oxus River. Shah Abbas I wanted to encourage Iranians to go to Mashhad for pilgrimage more than before. Therefor he went from Isfahan to Mashhad by walk. During Safavid era Mashhad gained more religious position and became the most important city of the Greater Khorasan and several Madrasah and buildings were built beside shrine of Imam Reza.

Besides its religious significance, Mashhad has played an important political role as well. It saw its greatest glory under Nadir Shah, ruler of Iran from 1736 to 1747 and great benefactor of the Imam Reza shrine, who made the city his capital. It remained capital of Afsharid dynasty until Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar conquered Khorasan in 1796.

In 1912, the sanctuary of the Imam Reza was bombed by the Russian forces, causing widespread and persisting resentment in the Shiite Muslim world.

Current religious situation

Shrine of Imam Ali Reza in Mashad


Shrine of Imam Ali Reza in Mashad, Iran

Today the holy shrine and its museum hold one of the most extensive cultural and artistic treasuries of Iran, in particular manuscript books and paintings. Several important theological schools are associated with the shrine of the Eighth Imam.

As a city of great religious significance, it is also a place of pilgrimage. It is said that the rich go to Mecca but the poor journey to Mashhad. It is thought that over 20 million Muslims a year make the pilgrimage to Mashhad.




Relief in Tus depicting popular stories of Persian mythology, from the book of Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.

Long a center of secular as well as of religious learning, Mashhad has been a center for the arts and for the sciences. The large Ferdowsi University of Mashad, named after the great Iranian poet, is located here. The Madrassa of Ayatollah Al-Khoei, originally built in the seventeenth century and recently replaced with modern facilities, is the city’s foremost traditional centre for religious learning. The Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, founded in 1984, stands at the centre of town, within the shrine complex. The prestige of traditional religious education at Mashhad attracts students, known as tolaban, internationally.

Mashhad is also home to one of the oldest libraries of the Middle-East called the Central Library of Astan-e Quds Razavi with a history of over six centuries. The Astan-e Quds Razavi Museum, which is part of the Astan-e Quds Razavi Complex, is home to over 70,000 rare manuscripts from various historical eras. There are some six million historical documents in the foundation’s central library.

Kashmar rugis a type of Persian rug indigenous to this region.


Tomb of Nadir Shah Afshar


Tomb of Nadir Shah Afshar, a popular tourist attraction in Mashad.

Hotel Homa in Mashhad


Hotel Homa in Mashhad.

The second largest holy city in the world, Mashhad attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year, many of whom come to pay homage to the tomb of Imam Reza (the eighth Shi'ite Imam). It has been a magnet for travellers since medieval times.

Apart from a number of large beautiful parks and the tombs of historical celebrities in nearby Tus and Neyshabour, the tomb of Nadir Shah and Kooh Sangi park and mellat park that have a modern devices for children such as 3th fanfar (چرخ و فلک) of the world and Koohestan park e shadithat have a zoo with many wild animals keep in this place and attracts more people that come to Mashhad, are also noteworthy sights. It is also home to the Mashhad Airbase (formerly Imam Reza airbase), jointly a military installation housing Mirage aircraft, and a civilian international airport.

Some points of interest lie outside the city: the tomb of Khajeh Morad, along the road to Tehran; the tomb of Khajeh Rabi' located 6 kilometers north of the city where there are some inscriptions by the renowned Safavid calligrapher Reza Abbasi; and the tomb of Khajeh Abasalt, a distance of 20 kilometers from Mashhad along the road to Neishabur. (The three were all disciples of Imam Reza).

Among the other sights are the tomb of the great poet Ferdowsi in Tus, 24 kilometers distance, and the summer resorts at Torghabeh, Torogh, Akhlamad, Zoshk, and Shandiz.

The Shah Public Bath, built in 1648 during the Safavid era and an outstanding example of the architecture of that period, was recently restored, and is to be turned into a museum.




Iran's holiest city is served by the Mashhad International Airportwhich handles domestic flights to Iranian cities and international flights to mostly Asia.


The Mashhad Urban Railway Corporation (MURCO) is constructing a metro system for the city of Mashhad. It is planned to be finished by 2008.


Mashhad is connected via rail to three major rail terminals: Tehran, Bandar Abbas and Almaty. Rail services are operated by Raja Trains.


The Almas-e-Shargh Shopping Center


The Almas-e-Shargh Shopping Center

Mashhad is a great city for shopping. The major shopping precinct are:






Imam Khomeini Avenue Doshahid Street Sevom Isfand Sq. Mashad Iran

Tel: +98-511-8544829, +98-511-8597552 Fax:+98-511-8544404,E-mail:




Rahnemai Street 10, 41 h. Mashad Iran

Tel:+98-511-8417716 Fax: +98-511 8401293 E-mail:


No.209,next to Gas station,Abkooh Ave. 91839 Mashhad Iran

Tel:+98-511-8418444 Fax:+98-511-8418444


Khyaban-e-Imam Khomeini Opposite Bagh-e- Milli P.O. Box No.91375-1733 Mashad Iran

Tel:+98-511-2229845 Fax:+98-511-2227045 E-mail:

Mashhad University of Medical Sciences Contact Details:
Main address: University St., Ghoraishy Building 91375-345 Mashhad, Iran ,
Tel:( 98 511) 841 2081-5 , Fax:( 98 511) 8430249 , E-mail: Info(at) Members: - Schools and Hospitals School: Dentistry , School: Health , School: Medicine , School: Nursing & Midwifery , School: Paramedical , School: Pharmacy , School: Traditional Medicine , Hospital: Dr.Sheikh , Hospital: Dr.Shariati , Hospital: Emam Reza , Hospital: Ghaem , Hospital: Hashemi Nezhad , Hospital: Ibn-e-Sina , Hospital: Khatam-al-Anbia , Hospital: Montaserie , Hospital: Ommul-Banin , Hospital: Omid , Hospital: Shahid Kamyab , Hospital: Taleghani , History: Mashhad Faculty of Medicine was officially opened on Nov. 23, 1949 by Dr Zanganeh, the minister of culture. The school started out with 61 students, one associate professor and seven tutors. In 1956, when the school of Arts opened, the two schools merged to form the University of Mashhad. In 1989, the faculties offering Medical Sciences' degrees across the country separated from the Ministry of Culture and Higher Education. New emerging Medical Universities have gone under management of Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education. Thus the original University of Mashhad was divided into two independent universities: "Ferdowsi University of Mashhad" and "Mashhad University of Medical Sciences'. Mashhad University of Medical Sciences operates at present with 8 faculties, 32 hospitals, 179 rural and 147 urban health centers. It covers an enormous area stretching from the north east to the central parts of the country, which makes it the largest university of Medical Sciences providing health care and treatment services. With 597 teaching staff, 1645 MDs with different specialties, 138 dentists, 123 pharmacists and 25, 402 employees, the university provides health care and medical services to the area's large population as well as to over 25 million tourists a year.